The Ghana Peace Project

Kathryn W. Davis is a 105 year old philanthropist who sponsors a million dollars a year in $10,000 Peace projects designed and carried out by graduate students from around the United States. The International House in New York is a graduate housing institute that houses up to 700 students from around the world. This year, Kofi Deh, a Ghanaian student about to pursue his doctoral program in Medical Physics at Cornell University, was awarded this grant for a Peace and Conflict resolution proposal in Ghana with high school students as future leaders. Two International House residents joined him, Thomas Dyer from the United States who assisted the year before with a conflict resolution peace project in Arizona, and Shannon Bishop, a South African and former peace project recipient who works for LitLife Inc. as an educational consultant.

Shannon in the Classroom

Shannon Writes: 

The Peace and conflict resolution workshop was a two day intensive workshop covering leadership skills, public speaking and literacy. The workshop took place in a school, Boitianor m/a in a rural part of the greater Accra region. Twenty 13-15 year olds representing the 10 different regions of Ghana, a boy and a girl from each region, were selected to take part in teh program. Kofi and Tommy focused on Peace and Conflict Resolution and I worked on the literacy component and Public Speaking. LitWorld generously donated $200 worth of childrens books to start the library at Boitianor m/a.


Once again we saw how important it was to give children a variety of texts at different levels, as well as topics that interested them. We read books about Nelson Mandela, Wangari Mathai, Martin Luther King and Maya Angelou. We asked the question: If you were leader of the world for one day, what would you do? Our students then spent time writing their peace messages, answering the question we set. We then asked the students to come to the front of the class and one-by-one present their 'peace message' in both English and their mother tongue. We filmed their presentations and then played them back to the students as an exercise in good public speaking. Students then critiques themselves and edited their speeches and on the second day of the workshop delivered them again and were recorded.

 The outcome of the public speaking session was to get each student to present their peace message to an audience which was the final day Durbar, a gathering of chiefs from neighboring villages, local politicians, representatives of organizations and parents and family of the students. Here we discussed ways that the elders and older community members could get involved and assist the younger generation with their peace initiatives. Our huge celebration was complete with representatives of local government, politicians and chiefs of neighboring villages.The NGO, NACIF, gave each child a t-shirt that said peace ambassador on the back.

 While working with Boitianor m/a in a rural part of Accra, I was able to make a great contact, Mrs. Deh, affectionately known as Mama Deh. She is the coordinator and founder of the Needy African Child Foundation (NACIF). Her organization was who we partnered with to deliver the Peace and Conflict resolution workshops to the school. She suggested that the books we donated be given to Boitianor m/a school to start their library and she spoke with the headmaster about LitWorld literacy clubs. The headmaster, who was very excited about the LitClubs, said he would include his teachers as facilitators. Mrs Deh also mentioned that a volunteer at her organization, Nana Otu, be responsible as a monitor and chief facilitator for the clubs. Mama Deh is willing to identify schools and good facilitators who would be responsible for creating more LitClubs in Ghana.


Over the rest of our time in Ghana, we were working from the Accra region visiting local youth groups explaining what the project entails and how each group can create and spread peace messages to their peers.

-Shannon Bishop

LitWorld in Ghana!


LitWorld Team Member Madison with the Kumasi Girls LitClub

Was a wonderful day here in hot hot hot Kumasi!  Kumasi very West African, with the roadside shacks, dirt paths through small, poor neighborhoods (settled outside the walls of large estates), and wonderfully kind people walking everywhere.  It is so wonderful to be here and see such a different side to this city, than I have ever seen before!

We started our day in meetings with Abenaa and Hannah, the leaders of MCI Kumasi, as well as Emelia, the department of education appointee for girl-child education in Kumasi.  Abenaa and Hannah gave us very valuable insights to the challenges in Kumasi, in terms of high drop out rates amongst girls, school fees, lack of technology, and need for incentive to make our programs possible.

Madison in Action

Emelia also filled us in on the work that is being done to promote girls' education in Kumasi.  We were able to share about World Read Aloud Day with all of them, and hopefully Kumasi will be able to join in some way.  Abenaa and Emelia will be joining us again at the end of the training of the 30 facilitators and girl-child coordinators from the 15 schools where we work in Kumasi, and will be handing out the wonderful certificates Dorothy made for us.
LitWorld Team Member Denise with the Kumasi Girls LitClub

After our meetings, Denise and I traveled to Opoku Ware JHS.  Opoku Ware is where two of the three trainers of trainers (Annas and Adjoa) that I connected with on Skype ahead of the project work and run Girls LitClubs.  We met Annas and Adjoa, as well as their other co-facilitator Abby, at the school.  We also met Eugene, the head teacher (principal) who Hannah has informed us is a huge force for MCI programs in Kumasi, a supporter of our work, and a motivating force for other head teachers and schools across the city (according to Hannah - he gets it done!)  They were all so wonderful and excited about LitClubs, WRAD, and the impact LitWorld is making on their schools.
The beautiful girls of the Girls LitClubs

Opoku Ware's LitClub was WONDERFUL!  They sang a great rendition of the Hello Song, and one girl named Dorcas led the club in a song she had COMPOSED about the Seven Strenghts (it's on video - don't worry!)  We then discussed what they are learning in their girls club, and the girls discussed strenghts such as belonging, confidence (Dorcas credited confidence as inspiring her son!), and hope and what they mean to their lives.  We went straight into the Dream Poem, which really touched my heart because these girls in particular were so selfless and concerned with others.  
They wrote:
Manuella dreams no children will be on the street - all will be in school.
Irene dreams all girls will be independent and fight violence.
Hillary dreams of helping people in need.
Keren dreams of a library for her school.
Akosua dreams of enforcing girl child education in Ghana.
Dorcas dreams we will be confident enough to show the world what we are made of.
Lois dreams that all men and women will be equal in society (because women can do things better!)
We must learn hard to make our dreams come true.

After the poem, we read Chrysanthemum (the girls LOVED it!) and passed out post-its.  The girls each wrote their name and one thing the love about themselves on it (Denise's great idea - I took a picture of each girl with hers, but I only had my phone at the time so I am not sure how great they look).  We shared, and then discussed World Read Aloud Day, and I gave them a copy of Snowy Day to use in their celebration.  Finally, since we had extra time (Denise was at Kindergarten and they were delaying us with their cuteness!) we did a quick question and answer session.  I got q's from my favorite color to what I wanted to be when I grew up, to what I would say to someone who was underpriviledged, to if I would marry a Ghanaian.  It was so sweet!  We ended with the hello song, and I felt so uplifted by how wonderful these girls were, how brilliant they are, and how much they love the club.
We visited three more clubs (two combined as they were on the same campus) in the afternoon.  We did a shortened version of our lesson from the other clubs, with the Dream Poem, the book I Like Me!, and a discussion about WRAD.  They all speak of the importance of being kind, of working hard to achieve our dreams, of loving our fellow sisters, and of the joy of reading.  In each place, we were humbled by the girls willingness to share, their love of learning, their curiosity about the world around them, and their desire to make the world a better place.   It is always astonishing to me that girls who have so little can want to give so much to those around them.